Sri Lanka is drawing elaborate plans to celebrate excellence in professional marketing this year to mark the centenary of the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) UK.
Spearheading the initiative is CIM Sri Lanka Region under the new leadership of its Chairperson Chitrangani Herat Gunaratne.
Whilst CIM UK, the world’s largest professional body for marketing, is turning 100 years in May, its official and formal presence in Sri Lanka has been about 15 years whilst the globally recognised qualification has been pursued locally for a much longer time.
“The special centenary programme by CIM Sri Lanka Region will span between May 2011 to May 2012. A highlight of the celebrations will be a top level two-day international conference in late 2011 as well as a recognition awards scheme,” Chitrangani told the Daily FT.
CIM Sri Lanka will also use the centenary platform to aggressively take the professional marketing qualification to more provincial towns, drive the need to give due recognition for the professional marketer in boardrooms as well as greater emphasis to marketing at national strategy and policy level.
Chitrangani, who assumed office as the Chairperson late last year, said that her emphasis would be to engage with the professional marketing community more deeply as well as facilitate a greater interaction between professional marketers and other industries as well as the overall community.
CIM Sri Lanka is the fastest growing CIM body which serves over 3,000 studying members and 1,500 registered members, aiding them to elevate themselves in their professional careers while creating value and fostering excellence in Sri Lanka’s business landscape by harnessing marketing knowledge and building world class competencies.
“We are very keen to increase the numbers because marketing as a qualification is gaining relevance locally and internationally. Given the post-war rebound in the country we feel prospects for pursuing careers in marketing will increase significantly. At the same time the opportunities for marketers to add greater value and play a more proactive role will increase,” added Chitrangani, who is Vice President Quantum Strategic Services Pvt. Ltd. and has been actively associated with CIM Sri Lanka for nearly 10 years.
Several of the strategies planned by the new Board for 2011 onwards are aimed at achieving these broader objectives.
“The tuition centres and tutors are doing an excellent job. Sri Lankan students are also very intelligent,” said the CIM Sri Lanka Chairperson. This perhaps best explains a sizeable number of World Prize winners that Sri Lanka has produced so far. Since 1978 there have been nearly 20 World Prize Winners, proving Sri Lankans are globally competent. Recently a Wall of Fame was unveiled within CIM Sri Lanka premises to showcase these outstanding Lankans and inspire others to seek similar excellence.
CIM Sri Lanka will also engage more accredited tuition centres and tutors, for a mutually-beneficial relationship. At present there are five accredited tuition centres in addition to a CIM Sri Lanka Branch in Kandy. “We are exploring opportunities to set up a dedicated office in Jaffna, and in the south,” Chitrangani said, adding that the network of Marketing Clubs in schools would be expanded as well.
To better serve the growing student and professional community of marketing, CIM last year moved to more spacious premises at Deal Place, Colombo 3, whilst a full time CEO, Wasantha Senanayake, who was previously with Skills Development Fund, has been appointed.
The unique industry initiative of CIM, the Marketing Interest Groups (MIGs) will be expanded as well. At present there are five MIGs focusing on sectors such as leisure, tea, financial services, agriculture and retail trade.
Chitrangani said that the end of the 30-year conflict had unleashed much positivism across the country and that the MIGs would be required to play a greater role in helping the relevant sectors to better harness the unfolding new post-war opportunities, thereby contributing to rapid socioeconomic development.
CIM Sri Lanka via its multiple initiatives including MIGs will also focus on giving back to the community. This will be in terms of lending expertise to national development, training corporate and improving soft skills among students.
Commenting on her role as the Chairperson, Chitrangani said, “It is exciting and challenging.” Exciting was in the context that the first year marks the CIM’s centenary as well as the new initiatives planned by the Board of Directors and Management Committee. Challenging was in relation to having to steer CIM Sri Lanka whilst managing her other roles as a parent and work life at Quantum Research.
However, Chitrangani said that she is constantly inspired and supported by the seniors, especially several of the founder members of CIM Sri Lanka, the past heads as well as the current team.
“Personally I feel CIM as the world’s most widely recognised professional marketing qualification can empower individuals and companies to do better. A dynamic community of such professional marketers in turn can empower the country. This I am sure is the wish of all committed professional marketers in the country and CIM Sri Lanka will champion this with greater vigour in the centenary year,” Chitrangani emphasised.
At the 15th Annual General Meeting of CIM Sri Lanka Region, Dr. Rohan M. Fernando, Director/Head of Business Development and Plantation, Aitken Spence PLC was appointed honorary President of the Institute. A new regional board was also appointed comprising immediate past Chairperson Roshani Cooray – Senior General Manager of Lanka Bell Ltd.; Senior Vice Chairman Ravi Wijenathan – General Manager of MAS Intimates Ltd. SLENDERLINE; Vice Chairperson Nadi Dharmasiri, Asst. General Manager – Marketing of Asian Alliance Insurance PLC; Secretary Amal Perera, General Manager – Marketing Customer Management Functions of AVIVA NDB Insurance; and Regional Treasurer Shantha Katipearachchi, Senior Manager – Commercial Business Development, Union Assurance PLC.
Other members of the Board are Ajith Mendis, Head of Marketing Management and Senior Lecturer at the University of Kelaniya, Asanga Ranasinghe, Marketing Director – Home Care and Foods at Unilever Sri Lanka Ltd., Anuradha Edirisinghe, Senior Customer Manager – Modern Trade of Unilever Sri Lanka Ltd., Varuni Vanderpoorten, Assistant Manager Marketing – Corporate Affairs and Brands of NDB Bank, and Brian Selvanayagam, Director of On’ally Holdings PLC.
The Management Committee comprises of Dilshan Perera, Category Manager of Ceylinco Life, Amal Fernando, Senior Business Manager of Hemas Manufacturing Ltd., Rajiv David, Brand Manager of Ceylinco Life, Shimali Goonerwardena, Research Manager of Quantum Strategic Services Ltd., Muditha Hewawanithunga, Business Development Manager of Continental Insurance, Sujith Silva, Director Sales of MBC Networks Ltd., Trevine Miranda, Assistant Customer Manager – Modern Trade of Unilever Sri Lanka Ltd., Harsha Subashana, Manager Business Development of the British Council and Tharanga Wijekoon, Executive of T&S Buttons, a subsidiary of Brandix Group.
The team will focus on five key areas during their tenure of office – education, membership development, corporate and industrial integration, public affairs and communications and networking and relationship.